2013 Infiniti JX35: Holiday Trip Driving Impressions
November 26, 2012
For the holiday weekend I schlepped my family in our JX35 long-termer from my home in Fresno Calif., down to Orange County and then San Diego for Thanksgiving at a relative's house (pictured).
Overall I came away pretty impressed with Infiniti's three-row people hauler over 750 miles. I've got notes about the driving experience today, and I'll follow those up tomorrow with details about the interior.
First impressions, especially if you're used to Infiniti's other vehicles, might not be all that kind. The JX's handling around corners is pretty soft -- there's nothing sporty about it. But after spending a lot of time behind the wheel, I really came to appreciate what the JX offers. I couldn't have done the 14 hours total of driving with my family in tow nearly as comfortably in, say, an FX as I did in the JX.
That soft suspension tuning is a boon for the highway ride quality, as the JX snubs out most of the rough stuff. I don't think it quite has that indestructible feeling that you might get from a European crossover, and crossing big dips on the freeway makes that soft suspension tuning reappear. But overall it did a very good job of keeping my family happy. It's also impressively quiet at speed, and the 13-speaker Bose audio system has a high quality sound to it.
In a similar fashion, the V6 and CVT combo isn't going to impress you with athletic performance. But there's enough power to handle real-world acceleration (passing, freeway entrances) without any issues. The responsive CVT is also great for climbing grades, which I encountered while going over the I5's 4,000-foot Tejon Pass. Subtle throttle increases due to a change in grade are met with subtle increases in rpm. There's really no need to switch over to the manual mode for a fixed ratio; the CVT's got you covered.
Fuel economy over the 750 miles checked in at 22.6 mpg.
I also used the JX's adaptive cruise control occasionally. It proved most valuable in the 1.5 hours of gridlock traffic that I encountered Thanksgiving day (OC to San Diego). Just set it and let the JX creep along to match the slow-going traffic. My father-in-law, who was sitting next to me, was rather impressed with the technology as he'd never seen it before. "The car pretty much drives itself, doesn't it?" he remarked while we were moving in slow stop-and-go traffic. Yep, I said. He paused, and then replied, "Well, want to play some cards?" The only thing that was a little annoying was that the ACC would shut off if I came to a complete stop, meaning I'd have to reset it.
More on the JX's interior room and features tomorrow.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 12,049 miles